Sead Haksabanovic Celtic transfer: Desperate club official, Jota rise, Matt O'Riley on 'possibles' list - why move is being mooted
Celtic’s football department, as with all those in the game, are sure to be well-versed in the concept of back-filling.
To the uninitiated, back-filling is essentially buying a player for a role/area in a team where no real vacancies would seem to exist. The purchase is made because there is an expectancy of that changing. It is this situation which would come into play were Celtic to pursue a deal for Sead Haksabanovic, a Montenegrin winger currently attempting to extricate himself from Rubin Kazan, the Russian club from which Ange Postecoglou recruited Carl Starfelt last summer.
The 23-year-old has been linked with Celtic previously but such associations have been given oxygen by the club’s general director Rustem Saimanov practically begging the Scottish champions to make a bid for the attacker. The war imposed by Vladmir Putin on Ukraine and the subsequent isolation of the despot’s nation has collapsed the Russian football eco-system. Foreign players want out, and interested clubs spot the opportunity for cut-price deals. So while Haksabanovic only signed a five-year deal for £4.95million from Norrkoping only last July (subsequently going back to Sweden on loan with Djurgarden when the war began) a fee of half that would be sufficient to reach an agreement with Kazan.
No such deal has been struck and the question arising is why Celtic would pursue such a move. Wide men aren’t exactly thin on the ground at the club, with Jota and Daizen Maeda first choice starters, Liel Abada and James Forrest their back-ups. It has already been asserted in some corners of the Celtic blogsphere that, should the club look to land Haksabanovic, the understandable deduction would be that it would be a case of one coming in because another could be going out.
So blistering has been Jota’s start to the season it wouldn’t surprise were the Portuguese to join Giorgos Giakoumakis, Josip Juranovic and Matt O’Riley in attracting serious admirers from the English Premier League. Meanwhile, the limited game-time for Abada could perhaps prick the interest of circling predators.
However, there is another potential aspect. Postecoglou stated the ideal for the “one or two” players he said there was interest in recruiting in the closing weeks of the windows would be performers who could play in more than one position. In this respect, even if an offer too-good-to-refuse for such as O’Riley was known by Celtic to be in the pipeline it could impact on any play over Haksabanovic. Central midfielder O’Riley may have only arrived from MK Dons in January for a bargain £1.5m fee, but he is known to be on a possibles list for Leicester City should James Maddison be prised by Newcastle United. Haksabanovic may be principally known for playing in an advanced role on the left, but he has proved a highly adaptable player. Almost a third of his appearances have come in central midfield, either as a no.8 or no.6. He has been utilised as a first and second striker as well, and even featured on the right on a number of occasions.
As of now, though, it cannot accurately be determined just how much Celtic desire to firm up any interest, however much a financially-on-their-uppers Kazan – a club that have recently lost a couple of their most valuable squad members without earning any fees – want them to do so.